More Dialogue On Safety And Justice

Twenty-nine people, including two police officers, joined us at Battle on May 4, and you can review the notes of the discussion here. As with our prior dialogue, the National Issue Forum guide on Safety and Justice was used to spark conversation, and the dialogue was one of the ones reported for this year’s national “A Public Voice” initiative.  Although there were divergent views on strategies and how to best proceed, some clear and common themes emerged throughout the discussion.  These included the importance of building a sense of community; the need for mutual respect, empathy and compassion; and the importance of clear, ongoing education and dialogue. In the closing portion of the session one of the youth expressed appreciation for the officers sharing their perspective and stated next time he saw an officer in the coffee shop or at a gas station he was going to try saying hi. Several of the adults who were present expressed appreciation for the leadership showed by the youth in arranging for these dialogues. At the end of the evening two of the youth raised with one of the officers the possibility of a joint youth-officer training session on Youth Mental Health First Aid, using a curriculum supported by MU Extension. Winter break was identified as a time that might be possible. We are recording that idea here so it can be picked up and planned for next semester, and not lost over the summer!

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Building Bridges – Continue The Dialogue

The student led Wake-Up! Campaign at Battle High School hosted an energized and productive “Neighbor2Neighbor” dialogue on February 7. Approximately 50 people attended, including a contingent from Hickman High.  Several ideas were generated for bridging a number of divides in our community – geographic, racial, economic and generational. The Tribune over this last week also ran a series of articles looking at poverty and its effects here in our Columbia community. You can review those articles in the links below.  Next week these conversations continue at our Community Commons, Tuesday February 21 from 7 to 9 pm at the Tribune offices.  Come and work with others in the community to turn talk into action as we consider how we can better support one another in our community.

Community Commons
Tuesday, February 21, 7-9 pm
Enter the Tribune Training Room on Walnut Street, between 5th and Providence.

Sponsored by The Columbia Daily Tribune in partnership with the Kettering Foundation.

Build Bridges – Join Us September 20

In the Trib Talks June on-line forum we talked about “Our Town.” One participant referenced the “mixture of harmony and tension that underlies growth and diversity”. As in past forums, participants expressed concern about divides developing between North and South Columbia. Another participant observed “we need more opportunities that bring dissimilar people together to learn that we actually have more in common than not.”

After the forum yet another participant offered these comments through our survey:

I would like to see more joint projects between the universities and colleges and the youth of Columbia through the public schools and/or community organizations.

Most leaders do not interact with all the citizens! #1 would help break down these walls of economic and culture differences. It may allow a larger group of people to cross these cultural/ economic lines.

James Brown said, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door, and and I’ll get it my self. Education and shared experiences are the keys to open doors!

What divides are you concerned about?  What bridges would you like to see built?  Join us and other citizens for an in-person forum this Tuesday, September 20, from 7 to 9 pm at the Tribune’s offices. Enter from Walnut street.  We hope to see you there.

 

Driving While Black: Addressing Inequities

Whether you call it profiling or disparate impact, the data shows that in both Columbia and Boone County, black drivers are more likely than white drivers to be stopped by police. Sunday’s article “Driving While Black”  reviews the data, the questions, and the consequences related to this fact.  Readers have observed that this pattern relates to poverty and other inequities identified in past forums.

What questions do you have? What experiences would you like to share? What changes would you like to make in our community? Why and how?

Come join other citizens on September 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the offices of the Tribune (enter on Walnut Street) for another citizen-led dialogue. Share what’s on your mind and listen to others.

Real people, real dialogue.  Join in a conversation that matters. We hope to see you on September 20.

Community Forum On Equity and Race

A number of organizations and community groups are hosting a forum on race and equity issues across the city, with a particular focus on education and poverty.  You are invited!  The forum will be held at Hickman High School, in the gymnasium, Tuesday May 3, 5:30 to 7 pm.  Hosts include Heart of Missouri United Way, the Columbia Public Schools, University of Missouri and the City of Columbia.

Poverty and Our Community

The Tribune’s City Editor Matt Sanders presented the facts on the number of children receiving free and reduced price lunch in our schools in an op-ed Sunday.  He also outlined what the schools are doing to help children in poverty.  Several of those who commented on the article were less than sympathetic.

What kind of community do we want to be?  “Are We An Us?” was a question raised in our past forums and will be the topic of our next forum scheduled for next Thursday evening, February 11, at the ARC, from 7 to 9 pm.  Join us as we explore questions related to community here in Columbia, MO.

Another opportunity for information and dialogue directly related to the questions Matt raised occurs Monday night, February 8, 6 pm, also at the ARC, as the Cradle to Career Alliance screens the film “Wounded Places“.  This film explores the effects that chronic poverty has on children.  Members of the Minority Men’s Network and the Worley Street Roundtable will facilitate the post movie discussion.

And if you want to take Matt’s challenge to explore your assumptions about poverty, here is a place to begin: Poverty USA.

Addressing Inequities

Unequal opportunities and access to resources is another factor that strains community.  More than 40% of our school age children qualify for free and reduced price lunch.  Our school district is experimenting with different approaches to ensure that all children have the food they need to learn.  Many of our children also lack access to regular health care, including needed mental health resources.  In 2012 our county passed a tax to create a Children’s Services Fund, and recently launched a new Family Access Center to connect families to needed resources.  But a recent study also showed Boone County to be one of the least likely counties to provide a path out of poverty.  Much more can be done to reduce inequities in our community.  What would you propose?